Do you like your roadside attractions to be a little offbeat … and a little off the beaten path? Then you’ll love Mississippi, where you’ll find everything from the birthplace of Kermit the Frog to a very creepy bridge to the place claiming to have the best BLT in the world. Below are a few ideas to get you started on your Mississippi road trip.

Red Water Artesian Well / Shubuta

Image courtesy of Libby Rae Watson / Facebook

Think of artesian wells as Earth’s own water fountains that naturally pump up water from deep within the ground. America has artesian wells all over the place, but what makes this one in Shubuta so special is that the water it pumps out is red. Mind you, it’s more the color of grandma’s sweet iced tea than Tropical Punch Kool-Aid; nonetheless, it’s safe to drink.

Elvis Presley’s Birthplace / Tupelo

Image: Stuckey’s Corp. / Stephanie Stuckey

Would it really be a road trip without an Elvis sighting? Vernon Presley built this two-room shotgun shack in the mid-1930s for him and his expectant wife, Gladys. On January 8, 1935, Gladys would give birth to a baby boy who the parents named Elvis, Vernon’s middle name. Two years later, after falling on hard times, the bank would repossess the house. The family would continue living in Mississippi for the next 11 years, making a historic move to Memphis when the boy-king was just 13-years-old. A walking trail, gift shop, and a church where Elvis learned to play guitar are also on the grounds.

Margaret’s Grocery / Vicksburg

Miss Margaret and Rev H.D. Dennis
Photo© Suzi Altman / Save Margaret’s Grocery (Used by Permission)

It’s part grocery, part folk art, and part sermon, but mostly, it’s all love – a testament to a promise kept by the second husband of the store’s eponymous Margaret Rogers. Margaret’s first husband was shot in the late 1970s during a robbery at the store. Five years later, Reverend H.D. “Preacher” Dennis vowed that, if Margaret would marry him, he would build a castle to their love. She agreed, and every day after that, Preacher worked on this Mississippi folk art treasure … even after Margaret died in 2009. In 2012, thieves ripped out the front of the store with a truck and stole the store’s meat counter. The store would close and Preacher would die soon after. Though it has fallen into disrepair, efforts are being made to renovate and preserve this glorious example of roadside folk art. You can help by visiting here.

Colonel Sanders Statue / Meridian

Stephanie with Col. Sanders
Image: Stuckey’s Corp / Stephanie Stuckey

Sightings of Colonel Harland Sanders on road trips are starting to be about as frequent as sightings of Elvis. However, you won’t find a bucket of chicken anywhere near this Colonel Sanders. Sitting on a bench outside of the KFC Colonel’s Kid’s Building in Meridian’s Hope Village, the colonel’s warm and inviting smile just begs for a selfie. Incidentally, Hope Village was founded in 2000 by actress and Meridianite Sela Ward and her husband, Howard Sherman, as a way to help improve the lives of foster children in Mississippi. KFC’s Colonel’s Kids is part of that effort.

The Tomato Place / Vicksburg

Image courtesy of Risa / The Tomato Place

The Tomato Place describes itself as “a slow food, smell the roses, hear the music, and feel the atmosphere kind of place,” and that’s exactly what it is. It began as quite a few fruit stands (we won’t get into the whole “is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable” debate here) scattered all around Vicksburg. In 2001, they all consolidated into this colorful café located on Highway 61 just south of the city. Today, not only do they serve up some of the most delicious po’ boys and platters in the area, but they also claim to make the best BLT sandwich on the planet. Be sure to wash it all down with their fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced tea, or one of their signature fruit smoothies.

Stuckey’s Bridge / Meridian

As the legend goes, a man known only by the name of Stuckey (no relation) was left here along the shores of the Chunky River by the Dalton Gang. Nonetheless, it seemed Stuckey didn’t mind being left behind, as he opened an inn next to the bridge soon after.

Apparently, some habits are hard to break, however, as Stuckey used to go out to the bridge late at night with a lantern and lure in merchants traveling along the river carrying produce, cotton, and the like. Once he got them back to the inn and all tucked in, Stuckey would bludgeon them in their sleep and rob them of all their possessions. He would then bury their bodies out along the banks of the Chunky River.

Image: Stuckey’s Corp. /Stephanie Stuckey

His plan seemed to be going pretty well, but by the time he reached his 20th victim, the jig was up. Stuckey was tried and hanged by an angry mob from the bridge that now bears his name. After a few days, his body was cut down and washed downriver. These days, locals say you can still hear the splash of his body hitting the water. Others say they’ve seen an eerie-looking figure make its way across the bridge late at night. Could it be Stuckey’s ghost looking for more victims, even in the afterlife? Find out for yourself, if you dare.

Grave of Florence Irene Ford / Natchez

Image courtesy of Spencer and Lorraine / Friends Along the Way

All of her short life, Florence Irene Ford was afraid of thunderstorms, running into her mother’s arms for comfort at the slightest rumble until the storm passed. Consequently, when the 10-year-old succumbed to yellow fever in 1871, her mother, Ellen Ford, requested a narrow stairway be built at her daughter’s gravesite. It led six-feet down to a small window fitted at the head of her daughter’s casket so she could comfort her even in death, Whenever a storm approached, Ellen would descend the stairs, close the metal trapdoor she also had installed, and sing or read to her dearly-departed daughter until the storm passed. Today, the gravesite looks pretty much the same today as it did in 1871, with the exception of a concrete wall being built over the window to prevent any vandalism. So, if you happen to be visiting Florence’s graveside and a storm seems to be approaching, go down and sing to her. We recommend “Stairway to Heaven.”

Sharkheads / Biloxi

Image: Stuckey’s Corp / Stephanie Stuckey

Sharkheads originally opened in an old gas station under the name “T-shirt City” in 1977, becoming so popular that they started growing bigger by buying the business around the store. In 2000, they actually bought the building right next door to them, merged the two together, and became the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s largest souvenir and gift shop. However, they felt they still needed something a little more, so they added a 32-foot-tall shark’s head and changed their name to … wel l… Sharkheads!  Since then, the more-than-grinning Great White has been a “must-see” for those visiting Biloxi and wanting a photo-op with this titanic and toothy land shark. And you won’t even need a bigger boat!

A Town Bewitched / Yazoo City

Image courtesy of visityazoo.org

Local legend claims that there was an old woman who used to lure fisherman off the Yazoo River and torture them. However, one day her evil deeds caught up to her and, as the local sheriff approached her house, she ran off into the nearby swamps. When he finally caught up to her, she was drowning in quicksand. Her last words were, “In 20 years, I will return and burn this town to the ground!” Since then, the witch has been blamed for every disaster that has nearly destroyed the town — yellow fever, tornadoes, and a fire that destroyed nearly half the town on May 25, 1904. However, the folks of Yazoo are a resilient bunch, and looking around this colorful city today, you’re more likely to be bewitched by its beauty than a decades old legend.

The Birthplace of Kermit the Frog / Leland

Image courtesy of Birthplace of the Frog

According to his biography, Kermit the Frog was born in Leland on the banks of Deer Creek, alongside approximately 2,353 brothers and sisters. You can find out more about both him and his creator, Jim Henson, at the former Washington County Tourist Center/Leland Chamber of Commerce’s Jim Henson Exhibit. It features a tableau honoring the famous fuzzy amphibian’s birth. There’s also a gift shop with kitschy Kermit souvenirs. Admission is free. “Yaaaaaaaaay!”

Smitty’s Super Service Station / Sandy Hook

Showbiz Pizza was a franchised family-entertainment center that charmed guests through a large selection of arcade games, coin-operated rides, an animatronics show dubbed The Rock-afire Explosion. The Rock-afire Explosion was a band made up of an assortment of anthropomorphic animals — such as a brown bear, a gray wolf, and a silverback gorilla — that played classic rock, pop, and country music medleys. Some comedy was also thrown in in-between songs. Unfortunately, after some infighting, the owners of Showbiz Pizza went their separate ways. By 1992, all of their locations (over 100 of them) were replaced by the Chuck E. Cheese brand. As one might suspect, The Rock-afire Explosion nearly disappeared with them.

Image: Stephanie Stuckey (Used by special permission of Smitty’s Super Service Station 2.0)

However, Damon Breland’s passion for collecting and restoring The Rock-afire Explosion’s animated characters has resulted in “one of the few existing, fully functional Showbiz Pizza animatronic shows in the world.” You’ll find it at Smitty’s Super Service Station 2.0. (Smitty’s Super Service Station 1.0 was located in Little Improve, Mississippi and moved to Sandy Hook in 2018.)  They’ve even thrown in some Chuck E. Cheese characters so his fans don’t feel left out. Smitty’s is open by appointment only, but that just means you’ll have the whole balcony to yourself. (Sorry, pizza not included.)

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With seven Stuckey’s locations in Mississippi, there’s sure to be one on the way to wherever you’re going. Stop in and stock up on all the road trip treats and classic candies you’ll need while gallivanting around the Magnolia State. Don’t forget that Stuckey’s is also your one-stop shop for all of your state souvenirs and kitschy gifts that help make so many road trip memories.

Can’t wait until your next road trip to get your hands on a Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll? Head on over to our website, browse through all of our Stuckey’s merchandise, and have Stuckey’s delivered directly to your home.

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